BHP Billiton Copper Mine In Chile Expected to Reach Deal with Escondida Mine Workers

The union at BHPs Escondida copper mine in Chile said on Friday that it saw a "favorable scenario" for reaching a deal on a new labor contract with the company, citing higher copper prices.

In a letter to its members published on its website, the union at the worlds largest copper mine said BHP has promised to respond to its recent proposal for a new contract. A favorable scenario has emerged for developing negotiations to reach a satisfactory agreement, the union said in a statement, noting that the price of copper had climbed to its strongest in 4-1/2 years this week. Copper prices rose this week in part because of worries that Escondida workers might go on strike.

Last year, workers at Escondida downed tools for more than month and a half before opting to extend the current contract and renegotiate a new one this year. The 2017 strike jolted the global copper market and deprived BHP of $ 1 billion in production. Formal negotiations between the union and BHP are scheduled to begin in July. Earlier this week, the union said it was asking for a 5 percent increase in salaries and a one-time bonus equivalent to 4 percent of dividends distributed to shareholders in 2017, or about $ 34,000 per worker.